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A Critical Exposition of the Popular ‘Jihád’ – Part 13


By Moulavi Chirágh Ali

A Bedouin Arab was sent by Abú Sofian to Medina to assassinate Mohammad. The emissary was tracked in his evil attempt, and confessed the purpose with which he had come. This is related by Ibn Sád Katib Wakidi as the cause of Mohammad's sending Amr Ibn Omeya to assassinate Abú Sofian.[228] According to Hishamee, Amr was commissioned by the Prophet to fight with Abú Sofián, and to kill him in immediate revenge for the murder of Khobeib and his companions captured at Raji.[229] Now, Ibn Ishak and Wákidí preserve absolute silence on this head. Ibn Hisham relates nothing about assassination. It is only Ibn Sád Kátib Wákidí who hands down to posterity the orders of Mohammad for the assassination of Abú Sofian. This tradition is neither strengthened by any sterling witness, nor is it a genuine one; and for this very reason it was not accepted by Ibn Ishák or even by Wakidi, so prone to the recital of apocryphal traditions.

[Sidenote: 56. Irving and Muir quoted: concluding remarks.]

Referring to the above attempted assassination Mr. Washington Irving says: "During this period of his career Mahomet in more than one instance narrowly escaped falling by the hand of an assassin. He himself is charged with the use of insidious means to rid himself of an enemy, for it is said that he sent Amru Ibn Omeya on a secret errand to Mecca, to assassinate Abu Sofian, but the plot was discovered, and the assassin only escaped by rapid flight. The charge, however, is not well substantiated, and is contrary to his general character and conduct."[230]

Sir W. Muir writes: "There is just a shadow of possibility that the tradition may have been fabricated by the anti-Omeyad party to throw odium on the memory of Abu Sofiân, as having been deemed by Mahomet worthy of death. But this is not to be put against the evidence of unanimous and apparently independent traditions."[231] But, in fact, there are no unanimous and apparently independent traditions of the command of Mohammad to assassinate Abú Sofian; there is only one and but one, by Ibn Sád, which is wholly unreliable, and that too from the lips of the would-be assassin himself who before the introduction of Islam was a professional cutthroat, whose narration, therefore, deserves not our belief.

Even if it be taken for granted that Mohammad did send someone to assassinate Abú Sofian, who had already sent someone to assassinate Mohammad as related by Ibn Sád, it was justified in self-defence. It was a measure for retaliation, not one of mere revenge, but only a means of protective retribution, which is lawful under the military law.[232]

[Footnote 205: Selections from the Qur-án by Edward William Lane, with an Introduction by Stanley Lane Poole. Intro., p. xliv: Trübner & Co., London, 1879.]

[Footnote 206: Islam under the Arabs, by R.D. Osborn, p. 60, London, 1876.]

[Footnote 207: Wákidi's Campaigns of Mohammad, pp. 172 & 173: Calcutta Baptist Mission Press; edited by A. Von Kremer.]

[Footnote 208: Sir W. Muir writes that "Hishami says, that Mahomet, being vexed by Asma's verses, said _publicly_, 'Who will rid me of this woman?'" But there is no such word in Ibn Hishám which may be rendered '_publicly_.']

[Footnote 209: Ibn Hisham, p. 994. Wakidi does not give this sentence. On the contrary, he says, Sálim had taken a vow to kill Abú Afak or die himself.]

[Footnote 210: Ibn Sad Kátib Wákidí, pp. 186, 187.]

[Footnote 211: The Life of Mahomet, by Sir W. Muir, Vol. III, pp. 147-148.]

[Footnote 212: In the collections of Bokhári in the Book of Campaigns; and in the Book of Jihád by Moslim]

[Footnote 213: Mohammad-bin Sád Kátib Wakidi and Mohammad-bin Ishak. The latter in Ibn Hisham, p. 551.]

[Footnote 214: Vide _Osaba-fi Tamiz Issahába_; or, Biographical Dictionary of Persons who knew Mohammad, by Ibn Hajr-al-Askalani. Part I, No. 1021, p. 434.]

[Footnote 215: Ibn Abbás was only five years old at that time, and was at Mecca. His evidence is consequently inadmissible.]

[Footnote 216: Yahya-bin Saeed al Ansaree, Ali-bin Abdullah-bin Abbás, Ibnal Mosayyab, Atá Ibrahim-bin Maisura, Mohammad-bin Sireen, Kásim, and Abdullah-bin Omar say that Ikrama was a liar. Vide _Mizánul Etedal_ of Zahabi, _Koukabi Durrári Sharah_, _Saheeh Bokhari_, by Shamsuddin Kirmáni; and _Márafat Anwaá-ilm Hadees_, by Abu Omar-ad-Damishki.]

[Footnote 217: The Life of Mahomet, by Sir W. Muir, Vol. III, p. 200.]

[Footnote 218: Elements of International Law, by Henry Wheaton, LL.D. Sixth edition, by William Beach Lawrence, Boston, 1855; Part IV, Chapter I, p. 374, quoting Bynkershoek; in p. 416, quoting Bynkershoek and


[Footnote 219: _Ibid_, Chapter II, p. 470.]

[Footnote 220: The collections of Moslem _Apud_ Boreida, _vide_ Mishkat, p. 333.]

[Footnote 221: The collections of Abú Daúd in the Book of Jihád, Vol. II, p. 26.]

[Footnote 222: The Life of Mohammad based on Mohammad-ibn Ishak, by Abdel Malik-ibn Hisham, p. 714.]

[Footnote 223: The Life of Mahomet, by Sir W. Muir, Vol. IV, p. 14.]

[Footnote 224: Or Yoseir-bin Razim]

[Footnote 225: As Khyber was not yet conquered, neither Mohammad could make such a promise, nor the Jews could have been induced to believe it; therefore the story is a false one.]

[Footnote 226: The Life of Mohammad, by Abdel Malik-bin Hisham, pp. 980-981.]

[Footnote 227: Muir's Life of Mahomet, Vol. IV, pp. 16-17.]

[Footnote 228: Muir's Life of Mahomet, Vol. IV. p. 20.]

[Footnote 229: The Life of Mohammad, by Abdel Malik-bin Hisham, pp. 992-993. The fighting was, according to Arab custom, in single combats.]

[Footnote 230: Mahomet and his Successors, by Washington Irving, p. 118, London, 1869]

[Footnote 231: Muir's Life of Mahomet, Vol. IV, p. 20, foot-note.]

[Footnote 232: Compare "Contributions to Political Science," by Francis Lieber, LL.D., Vol. II, p. 250.]

_The alleged Cruelties in executing the Prisoners of War and others_.

[Sidenote: 57. Treatment of the prisoners of war]

Some of the war prisoners had received the condign punishment of execution for their crimes in conformity with the laws of war. It has been alleged by some European biographers of Mohammad that their (the war prisoners') execution was cruel, and that they were accused of no crime except their scepticism and political antagonism.[233]

The persons executed were as follows:--

     1. Nadhr-bin-Harith.

     2. Okba.

     3. Abul Ozza.

     4. Moavia-bin-Mughira.

[Sidenote: The law of nations regarding the prisoners of war.]

Before reviewing the case of each prisoner, I must note, by way of introductory remarks, that, under the international or military law, a prisoner of war is a public enemy armed or attached to the hostile army for active aid, and who has fallen into the hands of the captor, either fighting or wounded, on the fields or in the hospitals, by individual surrender or capitulation. All soldiers, of whatever species of arms; all men who belong to the rising _en masse_ of the hostile country; all those who are attached to the army for its efficiency and promote directly the object of the war, except religious persons, officers of medical staff, hospital nurses and servants, all disabled men or officers on the field, or elsewhere, if captured, all enemies who have thrown away their arms and asked for quarters, are prisoners of war, and as such exposed to the inconveniences as well as entitled to the privileges of a prisoner of war. He is subject to no punishment for being a public enemy, nor is any revenge wreaked upon him by the international infliction of any suffering or disgrace, by cruel imprisonment, want of food, by mutilation, death, or any other barbarity. But a prisoner of war remains answerable for his crimes committed against the captor's army or people before he was captured, and for which he has not been punished by his own authorities. All prisoners of war are liable to the infliction of retaliatory measures.


[Sidenote: 59. The execution of Nadhr Ibn Harith]

Nadhr (Nazr), one of the prisoners of war, was executed after the battle of Badr for his crime of severely tormenting the Moslems at Mecca. Musáb had distinctly reminded him of his torturing the companions of Mohammad,[234] so there was nothing of a cruel and vindictive spirit of the Prophet displayed towards his enemies in the execution of Nazr as it is made out by Sir W. Muir.[235] On the other hand, his execution is denied by some critics, like Ibn Manda and Abú Naeem, who say, that Nazr-bin-Haris was present at the battle of Honain, A.H. 8, six years after that of Badr, and was presented with one hundred camels by Mohammad. Sir W. Muir himself puts down very quietly Nadhir Ibn al Harith's name in a foot-note (Vol. IV, page 151) as a recipient of one hundred camels at Honain. The same Nadhr-bin-Harith is shown among the earliest Moslem refugees who had fled to Abyssinia. These discrepancies leave no doubt that the story of Nadhr's execution is not a fact. It is also related by the narrators, who assert Nazr's execution at Badr, that his daughter or sister came to Mohammad and addressed him several verses, the hearing of which produced such a tender emotion in him, that his eyes shed tears and said, he would not have issued orders for his execution had he heard these verses before. The following are two of the verses which Mohammad heard:

     _"Má kán Zarraka lao mananta va rubba mámannal fata va ho-al mughizul mohnihoo."_ Thou wouldst no harm have seen to set him free, Anger how high for pardon has no plea.

But Zobier-bin-Bakár says, he heard some learned men who objected to these verses on the ground that they were all concocted; and I think that the whole story of Nazr's execution is a spurious one.


[Sidenote: 60. The execution of Okba.]

Another prisoner, named Okba, was executed after the battle of Badr for a crime similar to that of Nazr. It is related that while he was going to be executed, he asked who would take care of his little girl. Mohammad replied, "Hell-fire!" This is altogether an apocryphal story, and owes its origin to the relation of Okba to the tribe of Banunnar, or the "children of fire." Wackidi does not give his authorities for the story, and Ibn Is-hak gives only one immediately before him, which is cut short of another intervening link of authorities up to the scene of occurrence. Abu Daood narrates it from Masrook, who gave it on the authority of Abdullah-bin-Mas-ood, who does not say he was present at the scene or he heard it directly or indirectly from Mohammad. Besides the circumstances under which Masrook gave out this story are very suspicious, and show that calumny was at work. Masrook was proposed by Zohak to be entrusted with the administration of a certain district. Ommara, the son of Okba, objected to this, as Masrook was one of the murderers of Osman, the third Khalif. Masrook in reply said to Ommara, on the authority of Ibn Masood, that "when thy father was being executed, he had asked the Prophet, who will take care of his little girl." The Prophet replied, "Hell-fire." Therefore, I am satisfied for thee with what the Prophet had chosen for thy father. [236]

There is a discrepancy in the mode of Okba's execution as well as about the person who executed him. Ibn Is-hak says that it was Asim who killed him, and Ibn Hisham, that it was Ali. Ibrahim is of opinion, that Okba was executed at Taimee,[237] and Mohammad-bin-Khobeib Hashimi,[238] that he was crucified, from which others differ and say that he was beheaded. I have no belief in Okba's execution at all.

[Sidenote: 61. Free liberty granted to Ozza, a prisoner of war.]

Abul Ozza, one of the prisoners of Badr, and who was one of the persecutors of the Moslems at Mecca, had besought Mohammad to release him by way of compassion for his five daughters. Mohammad granted him his life and his liberty.[239] This directly points to the universal generosity of the Prophet, and from this it will appear that the story of Okba's execution runs contrary to his general character and conduct. On these grounds the execution of Okba might be rejected as a fiction.

3.--_Abul Ozza._

[Sidenote: 62. Abul Ozza proved a traitor and was executed.]

Abul Ozza, one of the prisoners of Badr, was allowed his freedom without any ransom, on the condition that he would never again bear up arms in any war against the Prophet; but he proved a traitor. He exhorted the Arabs to make war on Mohammad, and joined himself the invading army of Mecca. He was doomed to misfortune, he was caught at Hamra, and duly executed.[240] This was in full accordance with the laws and usages of war (_vide ante_, Para. 58).

4.--_Moavia Ibn Mughira._

[Sidenote: The execution of Moavia Ibn Mughira.]

Moavia Ibn Mughira, also a prisoner of war, was granted three days' truce, on the condition that if he were found in Medina after the appointed time, he was to be executed. The period had passed, and he was still lurking at Medina. At length he was found out and killed by Zeid and Ammar on their return from Hamra-al-Assad, after five or six days. It is apparent that Moavia violated his truce, and his lurking in Medina might be either as a spy[241] or scout secretly seeking information.

[Sidenote: 64. Justification of Mughira's execution]

Sir W. Muir, who calls him Othmân Ibn Mughîra, makes out a favourable case in his behalf. He writes: He "incautiously lingered at Medîna till the last day of his term of grace, when he set out for Mecca."[242] But Ibn Hisham distinctly writes that he "stayed at Medina after the three days had passed and was found lurking there." Even according to Wackidi he was caught on the fourth day. But this is far from truth, for, according to his own account, Mohammad was absent after the battle of Ohad for five days at Hamra-al-Assad; then how he (Ibn Mughira) could have endeavoured to avoid the returning Moslem force from Hamra-al-Assad, and lose his way, as Sir W. Muir gives it out, only on the fourth day?

One of the enemies, who had invaded Medina and attacked Mohammad, was, after being captured, allowed three days' truce on explicit conditions that he was to be killed there if found after three days, and was also provided with a camel and provisions for the way, was discovered lurking thereabout on the fifth or sixth day, in consequence of which he lost his life. This is called by Sir W. Muir as being "perished by a too great confidence in the generosity of his enemy,"[243]--_i.e._, Mohammad.

[Footnote 233: Muir's Life of Mahomet, Vol. IV, p. 307.]

[Footnote 234: Wackidi Campaigns of Mohammad, p. 101, Calcutta, 1855.]

[Footnote 235: "It was at Otheil that the cruel and vindictive spirit of Mahomet towards his enemies first began to display itself."--Muir's Life of Mohamet, Vol. III, p. 115. After this, the author narrates the execution of Nazr. Ibn Is-hak. _Vide_ Ibn Hisham, p. 458; Wackidi, p. 108; Abu Daood, Vol. II, p. 10. This story is not given by Ibn Hisham and Ibn Sád.]

[Footnote 236: Abu Daood as before.]

[Footnote 237: Zorkánee, Vol. II, p. 541.]

[Footnote 238: Sírat Halabi, Vol. II, p. 371.]

[Footnote 239: Wackidi, 105. Insán-ul Oyoon or Sírat Halabí, Vol. II, p. 464.]

[Footnote 240: Wackidi, p. 105; Hishami, p. 591; Insán-ul-Oyoon or Sírat Halabí, Vol. II, p. 464.]

[Footnote 241: Ibn Hisham, p. 591; Wackidi, pp. 324 and 325.]

[Footnote 242: The Life of Mahomet, by Sir W. Muir, Vol. III, p. 185.]

[Footnote 243: Muir's Life of Mahomet, Vol. III, 185.]

_The intended Execution of the Prisoners of Badr._

[Sidenote: 63. The wrong version of Sir W. Muir]

Sir W. Muir writes: "It would even seem to have been contemplated at the close of the battle to kill all the prisoners. Mahomet is represented by tradition as himself directing this course." In a foot-note he says, "Thus Mahomet said: 'Tell not Saîd of his brother's death'" (Mábad, a prisoner, see above, page 110 note); "but kill ye every man his prisoner."-- (Wâckidi, 100.) Again: "Take not any man his brother prisoner, but rather kill him" (page 101). "I would not, however, lay too much stress on these traditions. I am inclined rather to view them as called into existence by the passages quoted below from the Coran."[244] The contemplated execution of the prisoners is not borne out by the traditions which Sir W. Muir himself looks upon as fabricated ones. The true translation of the passages in Wackidi referred to above is as follows:--

_First passage._--"Tell not Said of his brother's killing (_i.e._, being killed), so he will kill every prisoner in your hands."-- (Wackidi, page 100.) This obviously means, that do not let Saeed know that his brother Wáhid, who was made prisoner and killed by Omar or Abu Barda, was killed. If you do so, he will, being enraged, kill every prisoner now in your hands. It is very strange that Sir W. Muir translates the sentence to mean "kill ye every man his prisoner!"

_Second passage._--"No body must take his brother's prisoner, so that he may be killed," meaning none of you should seize other person's prisoner. If you do so, perhaps, the other person may kill the prisoner in the contest. Sir W. Muir has quite misunderstood the sentence.

[Sidenote: 66. Mohammad never blamed in the Koran for relieving prisoners.]

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